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Tigers are survivors

Wellsville's Alana Amato (20) spikes as Western Reserve's Hannah Diaz (18) attempts a block, on Thursday night. (Photo by Anthony Fiuza)

BERLIN CENTER — In a volleyball matchup that featured the two best teams in Division IV, Wellsville and Western Reserve lived up to the hype and provided a thriller for those in attendance.

On Thursday, the undefeated Tigers (21-0) held on to top the Blue Devils, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 30-28, 15-11.

“We were in a situation we never got into. They were firing back at us,” Wellsville coach Jonathan Stokes said. “Some of our players were tired. We’ve never went five sets, before. So, there’s some running to do at practice.”

After capturing the first two sets, Wellsville began to unravel, which aided a Western Reserve (19-3) squad already gaining momentum.

In the fourth set, the Tigers trailed, 24-11. But, then they scored 14 straight points, before ultimately losing the set in a back-and-forth battle.

Despite losing the set, Stokes thought the rally in the fourth set gave his team some extra energy entering the fifth set.

“I was ready to puke half the time, but our girls walked into the huddle and I said we can’t give away easy points,” Stokes said. “If Presley (Stokes) gets to serve we can get back points and they were able to do that.”

Wellsville’s Gia Pucci said her team has been able to seize opportunities in the past, which helped them once again against the Devils.

“Our team is really good at staying together and learning how to push through,” Pucci said. “We might lose, but we know we can keep trying and there’s a chance of winning.

Wellsville’s Presley Stokes had 20 points, four aces, 25 kills, and six blocks. Alana Amato had 13 points, seven aces, 21 kills, and five digs. Emily McNicol posted 14 points, five aces, 16 assists, and a block. Teammate Aubri Ramsey chalked up 20 dogs. Paige Green added 18 assists.

Stokes added that his team can learn a valuable lesson from this hard-fought win against Western Reserve.

“We need to go out there and fight right off the bat. We need to get it done in three (sets),” the coach said. “We need to quit messing around and think that we wrapped it up after two good sets. That’s a hard team to slow down, with that momentum.”

The Tigers also want to stay perfect and Pucci thought continuing their undefeated streak on the road against a good team just adds to the excitement.

“It’s really important to us, because we’re still in an undefeated season and this game was really important in order to keep it going. We were able to show what we can do,” Pucci said.

The Tigers face Conotton Valley for the Class 1A Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Game notes

≤ Western Reserve’s Gianna Paris posted her 1,000th assist during the match with Wellsville.

≤ Wellsville will host Urban Scholars in a Division IV sectional match at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Urban Scholars scored only 14 points in three games at Lisbon this Tuesday.

≤If the Tigers win, they’ll face the Lowellville-Windham winner in the next round.

≤Before Thursday’s match with Reserve, the Tigers had only lost two sets all year long.

≤The Blue Devils lost just seven sets this season before losing three to Wellsville.

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